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Ships to Tarshish 

Can you believe anything you want to believe if you are sincere? Dont all of us have a right to our own opinion? These questions seem logical and harmless, but they are based on a false, insidious premise. When it comes to living in the will of God, such questions subvert eternal souls and fling them into the tangled maze of falsehoods. In the Bible account of Jonah, the prophet was swallowed by a great fish. But the reason for his predicament was that he rebelled against God. “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” Jonah 1:1. Instead, Jonah boarded a ship headed for Tarshish. God sent a violent storm and the ship nearly capsized. 

Come with me down to the Devil’s wharf and see the ships that lure paying customers aboard today on their way to a modern Tarshish. The first ship has a compelling name: Sincerity is all that counts. Those on board here place sincerity above doctrinal truth or conscientious obedience to the Word of God.  Not true! Every year, across America, hordes of florescent creatures will descend upon our forests and farm fields, hunting for deer and other wild game. Tragedy often strikes, however, when some overanxious trigger-puller sends a deadly missile to a moving clump of bushes. The movement turns out to be his buddy. He sincerely thought he had scoped a deer, but his sincerity wasn’t enough. The wise man Solomon said, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 16:25.

Heres another stately-looking liner. God only asks us to do our best. Lots of people are sunning themselves on the decks of this vessel. They live their lives according to an internal set of standards with little regard for Gods instructions given in the Bible. Whats wrong with this? First, none of us can do anything to earn salvation anyway, and second, even if we could, it would never be enough.  Show me someone who represents the highest ideal, the truest example of virtue, and yet, without knowing Christ, he or she is still a miserable failure in terms of eternal salvation.  Isaiah 64:6 says, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” 

This next ship promises its passengers a pampered excursion to exotic ports. To thine own self be true. Their world begins and ends in themselves, and they religiously believe that to be true to self equates with being true to God. This is known as egoism, or the focus on self.  But, Jesus’ message is anathema to the selfish or self-aggrandizing ego. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24-25.

How about a ride on the party cruiser, Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die? This is known as hedonism.  It refers to the actions which increase the sum of pleasure are thereby constituted right, and, conversely, what increases pain is wrong.  Paul said, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:8.

Another vessel is named: God helps those who help themselves. This gives the appearance of being self-reliant, self-starting, industrious achievers who refuse to be a burden to society. Instead, it often means that people are proud, arrogant God-rejecters who will not submit their will to the Almighty. The truth is that God helps those who cannot help themselves.  

But before you climb on board one of these ships, remember, ships sailing to Tarshish are headed for a storm.  Paul wrote to Timothy, Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.” I Timothy 1:18-19. You are safest when you board the Word of God and set your sail toward His will. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” 

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